What if a close friend knowingly invited her Jewish friend and her anti-Semitic, homophobic, white nationalist, conspiracy theorist friend out to dinner? Or the farmer’s market? Or her son’s first birthday party? This close friend knew both individuals intimately. The Jewish friend was unaware of the type of company her close friend keeps and it is debatable if the other party knew about me – the Jewish friend.
Nothing dramatic happens during these social events. After an outing, I go home and browse my close friend’s social media followers. By happenstance, I see the name of the person I have met through my friend. I click on his social media handle. And that is where everything goes terribly wrong…
His public account has a link to a website which promotes conspiracy theories – the kind of conspiracy theories that claim that the Holocaust was a hoax, 9/11 was planned, and vaccines are more harmful than helpful. Yeah…that kind of crazy.
I scroll through his posts and find more of the same rhetoric. I identify anti-Zionist rhetoric based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The posts are right wing, Q-Anon inspired with MAGA added for good measure. The rhetoric is insidious. His posts aren’t filled with blatant hate speech, swastikas or pictures of Hitler. His feed is filled with propaganda about George Soros and the debunked #pizzagate scandal. Use your imagination: anything that you might hear on that terrible radio show hosted by that idiotic host.
Reading between the lines, this is the hidden message:
Jews are trying to control the world. Jews control financial institutions. Jews control the entertainment industry. Protect your kids from Jews.
Or a more scholarly definition:
The Judeo-Masonic conspiracy theory filtered into Latin America from Europe, mainly through Catholic channels. According to this theory, masonic liberalism and moral relativism softened a nation’s resolve, paving the way toward political and social chaos, anarchism, communism, and, eventually, complete control of society by an international Jewish cabal. Since freemasons were an active presence throughout Latin America, conspiracy theories involving the fraternal organization were promulgated throughout the region, contributing to the creation of a fear of a secretive ‘enemy within’ that was determined to thwart national traditions and the existing social order inside nations.
My close friend allowed me to dine at the same table with her other close friend, the white nationalist. Needless to say, I’m angry.
Pre-pandemic, we meet at a restaurant and I tell my friend about my discovery. Side note: Now is a good time to mention that I don’t take shit from people and I confronted this jackass online. He told me that Jewish people eat people. I have a chat with my close friend, show her the screenshot accusing me of eating people, and ask “What gives?” She explains her philosophy of neutrality and assures me that she has respect for my beliefs. We delve into white nationalism, Trump, and the “very fine people” shouting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlotte. My friend doesn’t waiver, neither in her support of her other friend or Trump.
At least she is consistent. We leave that dinner and I feel perplexed. How can someone be the living embodiment of Switzerland during World War II? (Also, Switzerland helped Nazis with their finances and refused entry to Jewish refugees….but I digress).
Fast forward to 2020. It’s lockdown. Through Facetime, this close friend and I have a conversation which turns into a tangent about Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates, and Obama being in cahoots over a COVID-19 “plandemic” vaccine. She starts talking about Q-Anon theories and casually mentions that she has found employment during the pandemic organizing a home for someone that just moved. Guess who just moved? Bingo.
I confront my friend again, but this time I am lacking patience. I don’t care to be the token religious minority responsible for her education. I can’t believe that someone calls me a close friend but has complete disregard for my humanity. My great-grandparents left Austria and arrived at Ellis Island with the hopes of prosperity and religious freedom. If they hadn’t left, my family probably wouldn’t exist. I have Jewish roots and they are important to me.
I realize that I lost my friend a long time ago. She doesn’t apologize, nor does she see my perspective. She doesn’t care to evaluate the company that she keeps….but I do.
2020 is a year of transformation. I don’t need to keep company with misinformed individuals latching onto harmful populist beliefs. I don’t need to live in the shadows, afraid of speaking out against any form of intolerance. This is just one individual, but I want you to know that there is a whole army fighting to Make America Great Again through divisive and hateful rhetoric.
Watch the company you keep.